This guide describes the efficient way to go around problems, usually in the beginning of the Game. I promise to keep it away from "Hot" contesting issues and do no spoilers, even though some, concerning early missions are unavoidable, so pardon me and bare with me.
In the Beginning there Was Chaos
So you are about to start the game, having signed up a mortgage at an exhorbitant interest rate you surely wonder which ship ino your money range should you start with.
There are three availlable, actually displaying the levels of difficulty you want to face.
A. The Shuttle
The cheapest of the three with the longest Range, most Passenger space and small Cargo space. Most obviously it's the "easy" start of the game.
B. The Barge
Midlle (comparative) in price, sort Range, small Passenger space and the biggest Cargo space of the three. Obviously a mid-tier difficulty.
C. The Fighter
The only one with guns (albeit pop guns), short Range, even smaller Passenger space than the Barge and almost noexisten Cargo space. Talking about xtreme difficulty.
Just like the program says the choice is your's, then again, there is an Ancient Greek proverb that goes like this (translated) Everything (done) in measure is best, therefore it is recommended to start wih the Barge. At least it has a "decent" free outfit space and lots of cargo space to play with, converting to outfit if necessary (hopefully not).
A start with the Barge is supposed to have happened for the duration of this guide.
As you exit the Shipbuilder, on the tarmac of the Spaceport you are aproached by James, an old, retired Captain.
Maybe he's been put there for a reason by the programmer, maybe he's just a distraction, but anyway be polite enough to listen to what he says AND follow his advice like the good person you are (still). OK. maybe not all of it... afterall he's old generation right?
Of course you agree to take James along.
Nevertheless go to the outfitter and get a map. A pilot is always as good as his maps, a trader even more, as they also provide trading prices for the "known" systems. After that it's time to be a more "modern" captain than James. PAY 100K TO THE BANK IMMEDIATELY It will leave you with only 4K in your pocket BUT your mortgage payment is down to 1,9something, so you will make it to the next stop without defaulting. To the brave go the spoils. Of course you follow with his 3 "missions". After the First mission you have some money, start buying Luxury Goods on your empty cargo space making sure you have the mortgage ballance for the next mission. Now it's time to give your best Danny De Vito impression of Other people's money. Finally you arrive at Hestia in the Talita System, time to get rid of let James to his destination and sell all those Luxury goods you've been pilling for dear money.
If you payed attention on the job offer board, even though you didn't take any, you must have noticed that People Transferring is double the money from cargo haul per "unit". Furthermore there is no time limit in it, on the contrary to the "lucrative" cargo hauls that are timed.
So, let's make the Barge a transport shall we?
- By now you must be a bit short of 100K in your account. Buy a big bunk (4 extra passengers) with the 20 availlable outfit space (fits exactly in), Now you can carry 6 passengers, 1 more than the shuttle.
- Sell your power source and buy the next smaller to get 10 more outfit space. Power is mainly used by the shields (your's is paper thin so small amount needed) and the guns which you don't have, so get that space!!!
- Buy a fuel pod to increase your range to four (same as the shuttle).
Et voila!!! You have the range of the shuttle, one passener more than the shuttle and your cargo hold intact which is 50 against 20 of the shuttle, plus 40K in hand and a mortgage of, let's say 2K instead of 2.5K plus.
In general there are 3 kinds of jobs and 3 kinds of missions. I'll explain the basics:
These are offered in the Job Board usually or, in some occasions, when you hit the Spaceport button. Be carefull accepting a job offered this way. It is always timed and it can mess up your route. There is also an "illegal" job offering to sell drugs, better decline it, you know why...
Finishing with ethics, let's move to general tactics that are intewined with the type of jobs/missions.
There are TWO GOLDEN RULES among Couriers (been there, done that):
- Pick a most lucrative not time sensitive remote job offering, then fill the in between with jobs, to pay for the ride, so in the end the whole amount of the big one gets to your pocket plus "change".
- If you have to go back and forth, like pass the same system twice in your route i.e. going in a "cul de sac" system, go all the way in before stoping, then make the stops on your way out. This allows you to get more distant (and lucrative) jobs on the way.
So, on with the Job Descriptions:
- Untimed Cargo Haul: Transfer cargo from A to B. Price depends on cargo, quantity and distance, usually the less paying ones BUT they are not time restrained, very good to fill up a route.
- Timed Cargo Haul: Same as above but with a time limit, seemingly more lucrative than the above BUT you must allow AT LEAST one star system without stopping and always on the fastest (shortest) route. Avoid them unless you are absolutely sure you can make it on time.
- Passenger Transport: 95% untimed, by far the most lucrative. ONE EXCEPTION the ones saying "Transer a bussiness executive blah bla" it pays ahem ahem... AND it is timed. Later in the game you'll find some real gold mines in Passenger Transport, so always make sure you have the bigest bunk space possible at all times.
There are four kinds:
- Plot missions to advance the plot of the game. These are offered generally when you land on a planet without asking, or by hitting the Spaceport button.
- Side Plot Missions connected with the plot you follow but always triggered by hitting the Spaceport button, they are not essential to the plot but they offer more money (always in need of more) and some extra rewards at time.
- Side Missions independent of the plot of the game but with a lot of money (usually) in them and probing you to explore more of the map (remember the pilot is as good as his maps).
- Transport Missions of various kinds, either single or in a "series" of trips and/or time. Extremely llucrative and they prompt you to explore in their own way.
First Missions to Encounter
This mission appears usually (7 out of 10 times) at the moment you leave James in the Talita System. You have to go fetch a mutt named Pookie 5 systems away, therefore 12 mortgage pays. This mission prompts you to go "explore" the North, It's destination (Shroud) has an outfitter and the map you get there opens the North part of the Human Space. The pay is moderate (80K) but hey, it's the beginning. It helps pay a ♥♥♥ of 100K off your mortgage geting it down to 1400something a day, not bad eh?
2. Expedition to Hope
You have to transfer 2 scientists and their gear (about 10K load) to the deserted planet of Hope and back home, pay is the same as "Pookie" (80K) but you get half of it on Hope and the rest at the destination. Mind you, Hope is uninhabited, so make sure you have at least 1 jump left in your fuel when landing, the place is frequented by pirates so you'll probably have to make a fast run out of it. There is no Bank there, not even a Job Board (uninhabited) to plot your course out but do not worry the "M" key will bring up the map, My suggestion is go to Seginus (planet Clark) if you haven't visited it yet, the route NE (not the totally Eastern one, it's uninhabited too) and there is an outfitter to get a map of the neighborhood. This missoin takes you to the borders between the "Dirt Belt" and "The Rim". One of the main Scenarios has to do with the Rim (Free Worlds Campaign), better stick down there if you are to follow it.
P.S. At the time of writting this Guide it was the ONLY main campaign availlable.
3. Transfer Exotic Animal
An annoying guy will call "Yoo Hoo Captain" He has a lizzard to transfer about 10 systems away (Usually Asgard in the Naos System, deep in The Deep). This transfer is timed. The usual way timed jobs are and it comes in the middle of nowhere when you hit the Spaceport button. The pay is juicy (100+K) but, it usually derranges your plans, (remember I said avoid timed jobs? If you get this misson you'll probably have to abort the timed job, unless they are on the same way. There is no way you can have a better paying job at the start) but usuall jobs and/or missions (especially the latter) can wait. This is a point that having a good knowledge of the map is really essential
4. Deseased persons papers
A lady (sorry no pics) will come to you to carry a deseased client's papers to somewhere (generally about 10 jumps, same as Exotic Animal above). This is a timed missoin and pays pretty well for the beginning (100K). Beware that it has the bad habbit of appearing when you are on the Transfer Exotic Animal mission and more often than not points to the completely opposite part of the map and visa vers when executing this mission the Exotic Animal appears!!! Solution: When on either of these two missions avoid hitting the Spaceport Button so you won't have to choose but get both in a "timely" order.
5. Wolf Eye Project
This is the first of the Deep science missions. It will appear the firstt time you go in the Deep and you have at least 2 free bunks hitting the Spaceport Button. It requires you to make a flyby of the Ildaria system located in the middle of the Rim (you'll go there on misions enough times during the game). There's nothing to it, it is not a timed mission (all Deep Research Missions are not timed) and pays 250K.
This concludes the first missions one encounters in the game. They would help you explore the map and encourage you. Also they are a fantastic way to pay off the mortgage and get a REAL SHIP.
Choosing Your Next Ship
This is the logical (and efficient) route once you have managed to pay off the mortgage and gathered some capital.
Some people prefer to get 2 or 3 (some even more) copies of their original ship (the one they started with). I see no merit in that. The first ship is weak (so as not to say in the mercy of any pirate worth his salt) and a Fleet of such ships even though is cheaper attracts too much pirate attention, so unless you have chosen the Fighter better forget about it.
There are 4 options in the range of 1.3 - 1.5 million credits.
1. The Clipper
Mostly found in the Shipyards of the Rim is "supposed" to be a Cargo Hauler BUT with a punch. It has a Cargo Hold of 70 and 6 Passenger Bunks. It also has enough free outfits to modify it "at will" decent guns and Javelins to begin with, decent engine space and with it's small overall mass it can be quite nimble especilly if it's put "on steroids" aka Atomic Engines. The punch is it's four weapon placements. No turret so you have to face the opponent to do some damage or defend. This is where the steroids come into play. A big downer is that having no turrets it falls easily victim to missiles. It has a capacity of 500 Fuel, which is 5 jumps without extra fuel pods.
(It is put first in honor of a distinguist member of the community that favors it to death)
2. The Freighter
It has the biggest Cargo Hold (150). It honors it's name by having only 3 Passenger Bunks. Has a capacity of 600 fuel, but only 4 jumps range because it has to use the Scram Drive due to it's very slow turning rate. Modest outfits. On the plus side, the Scram drive gives you the fastest jump when jumping on a straight line, not even the nimblest fighter can catch you if it doesn't have any. Of course, the Huge Cargo Haul allows for a lot of improvements until you are stopped by other specifications. It has 3 turrest and no main gun ports. one is used for missile defence (prety good for it's class) and two fo defence. If you go for lasers you have adept defence against small fighters and you don't worry too much about missiles. To improve the range (to 6) you REALLY have to equip it with the biggest Atomic Engines it can carry.
3. The Bounder
This one is a (peoples) transport with a hold of 40. It can carry 14 passengers and has a range of 9 jumps!!! Equipped with 2 turrets, it lacks missile defence but it is nimble as it is and can avoid at least some of them, also it is fast by nature been light. The most expensive of the four, it has a good outfit space but not too much, it doesn't generally need it.
4. The Scout
For me it is the epitome of Deep Engineering. Small (therefore small and difficult target) extremely nimble without atomics. Has a Cargo Hold of 55, 10 Passenger Bunks and a nominal range of 8 jumps but since it is equipped with a ramscoop to gather fuel on the go the smallest "trip" into a system will make it to the 9th of the bounter. It is equipped with an anti-missile turret (not very good but enough due to the ship's speed) and two frontal gun placements originally filled with lasers. Enough outfit space for modifications even though it's REALLY fanie as it is. Along with the Clipper they are the two cheapest next ships at 1.330 and 1.332 respectively.
The choice is yours to make. And one "free" piece of advise. Since by now you have played enough of the game to be sure as to the kind of ship you want to continue with don't hesitate to take a mortgage (no more than 500K0 to get it. You know enough by now to pay it off before the end of the second trip.